I am not sure if you have been watching the weather on the west coast of the United States, but they have been getting hammered with rain for the last little while. Unusual rainfall all down the coast, from northern Washington to southern California. You may not have seen the weather but you might have heard about the potential disaster that could unfold due to the increasing water level on lake Oroville in northern California with the potential failure of the Oroville Dam. The Oroville Dam controls the flow of the Feather River. It has been on our news every day. Well the rain on the coast has finally made its way into Tucson. We have had gloomy, rainy weather for the last 3 days and we are feeling a little cabin fever.
This has given me the opportunity to have a look at the pictures I have been hanging on to. All of them feature cacti. What the heck, we are in the desert, there isn’t much else to see. There are quite a variety of these plants and we are just starting to identify their differences. I will identify the ones we know or think we know, but if I get one or two (or more) wrong it wasn’t intentional.
The first group of pictures were taken at the RV park in Benson and at the Kartchner Caverns State Park
This is the Staghorn Cholla. They are all over the place. You might be asking what the heck is a cholla, that’s a cactus? Well I had to look it up too. A chollas is a cactus with a cylindrical stem, native to Mexico and the south-western United States. I am not sure what this shows. It is either new grown from the spent flower or the plant is getting ready to flower.
Here are a few more. They are all over the property.
This one is a Fishhook Barrel Cactus. You can see that some of the spines are curved like a fish-hook.
Not sure what type this is. It looks a little like the Staghorn but has different colour fruit or it could be a chain-link cholla.
This reminds me of Prickly Pear Cactus but the leaves are not round. They are like the flames you would see on hot rods.
This is a Yucca but I am not sure what kind. They too are all over the place. As you can see the plant sends up a huge flower or seed shoot. I have seen these plants with the flower shoot dried up and dead but the plant is still growing. I have also seen where the plant has died, as in this picture. We first noticed these plants on St. George Island in Florida. The stalks can be 30 feet tall.
The rest of these are from the Tucson area.
Here is another Fishhook Barrel Cactus. It is nice to see the colour in the desert. We have learned that these plants grow toward the light and can grow so large they actually fall over. We haven’t seen them fall over but we have definitely seen the lean.
We think this is a Chain-Link Cholla but aren’t 100% sure. You can see them all over. From afar, the white tops look rather fluffy, like a pussy willow.
Close up, the fluffy illusion quickly disappears.
The Sonora Desert is know for the Saguaro Cactus. This is a very interesting plant. They grow very slowly, mostly in spurts during the summer rainy season. After a year, a seedling may only be ¼ inch tall. In 15 years you may have a 12 inche plant. You will start to see flowers after about 30 years. At 50 years the plant may reach 7 feet and the arms may start to sprout after 75 years. They can live over 250 years, tower over 50 feet and weigh 16,000 pounds or more.
The scenery is quite interesting. Nothing we would see in our past travels by the ocean. The pictures really don’t show the grander of the desert. You can click on any of the photos to get a larger view.
The weather forecast for Monday is warmer with clearing skies. It is our intention to travel into Saguaro National Park (west) on Monday and see what it has to offer. We will visit the east portion of the park at a later date. Even if the weather does not cooperate, we will still be going out. This 40 foot RV is getting smaller the longer we have to stay indoors.